K-State food scientist explains why certain foods are recalled

Government site is best source for daily updates on recalled foods

By Maddy Rohr, K-State Research and Extension news service

MANHATTAN, Kan – Food recalls happen almost daily for a variety of reasons, said Kansas State University food scientist Karen Blakeslee. Typically, we are not likely to hear about a recall in the news, unless it affects many people in multiple states or it affects us locally.

“Meat and produce, such as leafy greens, are two food categories linked to several food recalls, in recent years, due to bacterial contamination. Raw flour has also been associated with large food recalls due to bacterial contamination,” Blakeslee said.

Foods may be recalled due to other risks, such as having foreign materials — like glass or metal pieces — or improper labeling of foods with major food allergens.

One central resource to finding food recalls is FoodSafety.gov, which has a running list of recent food safety recalls and links to government resources issuing recalls.

“Food manufacturers can voluntarily recall a food product, so information can come directly from them as well,” Blakeslee said.

Blakeslee suggested also paying attention to the lot codes or other information provided in a recall. You may have the food at home, but you may have a different lot code. Therefore, you do not have to waste that food. Some grocery stores will also provide recall information on shopping receipts. “If you have a food associated with a recall, do not open or consume the food. Either return it to the store for a refund or throw it away,” Blakeslee said.

Blakeslee, who is also coordinator of K-State’s Rapid Response Center for food science, publishes a monthly newsletter called You Asked It! that provides numerous tips on being safe and healthy. More information also is available from local extension offices in Kansas.

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